This universe existed in the shape of darkness, unperceived, destitute of distinctive marks, unattainable by reasoning, unknowable, wholly immersed, as it were, in deep sleep. Then the divine self-existent, himself indiscernible, but making all this, the great elements and the rest, discernible, appeared with irresistible creative power, dispelling the darkness. He who can be perceived by the internal organ alone, who is subtle, indiscernible, and eternal, who contains all created beings and is inconceivable, shone forth of his own will. He, desiring to produce beings of many kinds from his own body, first with a thought of created waters, and placed his seed in them. That seed became a golden egg, in brilliancy equal to the sun; in that egg he himself was born as Brahman, the progenitor of the whole world.

The Manu-Smriti or Manusmruti is a work written in Sanskrit verse — known in English as the “Laws of Manu” — as a discourse by Manu, the first man, to seers who ask him to declaim on the “law of all the social classes,” in response to which he lays out the fundamental principles of the caste system still in use today. According to the Hindu tradition, Manu is actually speaking the words of Brahma, thereby giving this anonymous text a divine origin.

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